As we emerged through the star and into the park we could see another concrete structure bearing a stern looking face. To the right of that a giant 100m obelisk and behind a pretty whitewashed church with a golden roof and onion domes. Such grand monuments, very striking and now impossible to describe.
On the left as we walked in was a row of decomissioned soviet tanks. A stall was hiring uniforms, we deduced they were primarily for children so they could pose for photographs.
A summer Sunday was clearly a day out for everybody. There were families, couples, and teenagers taking photographs and enjoying the hot sunny day.
We climbed the steps towards the giant needle and saw an eternal flame. Mike took a surreptitious photograph of a man and boy in Soviet Military Uniforms. They came over and spoke to us in Russian.
"I am English, I don't speak Russian!" was Mike's response.
He received an answer in near perfect English. It transpired that the man was an Air Traffic Controller on holiday from Moscow , it was his birthday and his name was also Michael. He introduced us to his wife and son, we all took pictures of each other in front of the eternal flame. He told me that he could not believe his luck at actually being able to hire Red Army uniforms for 2 hours and that it was a great honour, particularly as it was his birthday.
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around the park area watching the seemingly endless stream of weddings, the groups posing for photographs all around the park. The girls wearing impossibly high heels.
In the evening we walked into town, and were surprised to find a very european looking pedestrianised street lined with Cafes, bars and shops. We met Jon and Linda at a cafe they had discovered. They were chatting to Andre, a Belarusian, fluent in English. It was a great opportunity to pick his brains about Belarus, the sort of stuff you don't get in the guide books. On his recommendation we dined that evening at an Italian Trattoria. It did take us a while to find it though. Jon asked a policeman who knew where we meant. His colleagues were stuffed into a 4 wheel driver version of a Lada. I could make out 4 in the seats and two in the boot. They were all howling with laughter at their colleague, presumably because he was the one who had to speak english. The few words he knew were a huge help to us as there aren't very many english speakers here at all.